Most of us read “serious books” about feminism in high school and college, but how many of us have gone back and read The Second Sex as adults? Stephanie Staal recently revisited the writers that made her start thinking differently about the world when she decided to take a college course on feminist theory at Barnard. She even includes the reading list in her book, Reading Women: How the Great Books of Feminism Changed My Life and will deliver excerpts from it tonight at Book Court in Brooklyn. The following are some of the books Staal explores in her studies, as well as a few others worth considering.
The Dialectic of Sex by Shulamith Firestone
“To assure the elimination of sexual classes requires the revolt of the underclass (women) and the seizure of control of reproduction: not only the full restoration to women of ownership of their own bodies, but also their (temporary) seizure of control of human fertility…”
Firestone distilled a number of theories from the Communist Manifesto, psychoanalysis, and first wave feminism and expanded on them in order to create a radical politics of sex, whereby women alter the means of reproduction by refusing to act as the only childbearing members of the human race. There’s a Malthusian drive at work here, which made Firestone the subject of fierce debate, as some argued that her work puts her on the side of racist proponents of eugenics. Discuss.